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Action thriller “Limbo” and “Anita,” a biopic about the late Canto-pop queen Anita Mui lead the nomination race for this year’s Hong Kong Film Awards, which is holding its 40th edition after being postponed from last year.

“Limbo,” a Cantonese noir that follows a cop duo’s hunt for a serial killer, received 14 nominations including best film, best director for Soi Cheang, best screenplay, best actor for Lam Ka-tung and best actress for Cya Liu. The film had earlier won the critics heart at the annual Hong Kong Film Critics’ Society Awards, which named “Limbo” as best film and Liu best actress for her role as a young addict.

“Anita” received 12 nominations, including best film and best director for Longman Leung. The film’s lead actress Louise Wong, who plays the role of the late superstar in her big screen debut, is nominated for both best actress and best new performer. Louis Koo, who plays Mui’s image designer, and Fish Liew, who plays Mui’s sister, were nominated for best supporting actor and actress respectively.

The late Benny Chan (“Gen-X Cops,” “New Police Story,” “Divergence”) was nominated in the best director category for his last film, crime thriller “Raging Fire.” Also nominated for best director are Peter Chan for “Leap,” a drama about the Chinese national women’s volleyball team, and Man Lim Chung for “Keep Rolling,” a documentary film about Hong Kong film director Ann Hui. Man, an award-winning art and costume director, was also nominated in the best new director category.

The best actor section sees Lam competing with himself, as his performance in drama “Hand Rolled Cigarette” was also nominated. Joining the race for the first time is 85-year-old veteran Patrick Tse, who was nominated for his role as a retired hitman in black comedy “Time.” The role already earned the screen legend his first best actor award in his nearly four decades of showbiz career at the recent Critics’ awards. Also nominated was Leung Chung-hang, who plays the role of So Wa-wai, Hong Kong’s first athlete to win the gold medal at the Paralympic Games, in the biopic “Zero to Hero.” Leung is also competing in the best new performer category.

Films released in 2020 and 2021 were qualified to enter this year’s Hong Kong Film Awards, as last year’s event was postponed due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. A total of 70 films qualified for nomination this year, according to Derek Yee, chair of the Hong Kong Film Awards Association.

An in-person award presentation ceremony has been planned to take place at the Hong Kong Cultural Centre on April 17, but go ahead is still dependent on the public healthsituation, Yee noted.

The city has been overwhelmed with the Omicron variant recently, recording more than 4,000 new cases and nine deaths on Wednesday. The Hong Kong government is expected to further tighten pandemic restrictions, adhering to China’s zero-Covid policy after Chinese president Xi Jinping told the city government to “mobilize all resources” and adopt “necessary measures” to curb the spread of the virus and maintain the city’s stability.

If the government-run Cultural Centre remains shut down in April, the ceremony will instead be staged at Kowloon Bay International Trade & Exhibition Centre, Yee said, adding that an online-only award ceremony will only be an option should the pandemic situation worsen further.